The Kensington Reston is proud to partner with Chef Annie Fenn, MD and founder of Brain Health Kitchen, as she shares the advantages of the MIND Diet in our recent event and cooking demonstration.
Research has shown that this diet may reduce the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Chef Fenn presented recipes from her new cookbook: The Brain Health Kitchen: Preventing Alzheimer’s Through Food (from Artisan Books, 2023).
The MIND Diet is a new combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. It’s tailored to ensure brain health and help avoid dementia and cognitive decline as you age. Annie provides nutrition guidance and recipes from her book, which she calls “a guide to taking care of your brain.”
Following two decades as a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist, she swapped her stethoscope for an apron to pursue her love of cooking.
But it was her mother’s diagnosis of dementia that helped Fenn determine her new career direction and allowed her to help her mother and make an important and positive difference with other people.
Annie Fenn is located in Jackson, Wyoming, and can be found on Instagram @brainhealthkitchen.
Researchers at Rush University Medical Center and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health developed the MIND diet as a means of potentially preventing mental decline.
Studies have shown that dementia is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. That’s one of the major reasons why America is leading the search for ways to stave off cognitive decline.
This diet, derived from the Mediterranean and DASH diets, is believed to help maintain brain health through its effects against cardiovascular disease.
All three diets emphasize plant-based foods and reduce the intake of animal products and foods with high saturated fat content.
To evaluate its effectiveness, the Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP) followed a group of older adults for up to a decade. These participants were chosen from various retirement homes and public housing units in the Chicago metropolitan area and were free of dementia upon enrollment.
For nine years, over 1,000 individuals completed yearly dietary surveys and completed two cognitive tests. A MIND diet evaluation was created to determine the foods and nutrients, along with the portion sizes, linked to dementia and cognitive decline prevention.
The study revealed 15 dietary components deemed either “brain healthy” or unhealthy. People who had the highest MIND diet scores had a reduced rate of cognitive decline compared with those with the lowest scores.
- The ten healthy food groups that can improve your brain health.
- Six food groups avoid (or reduce).
- Simple cooking swaps to improve thinking skills and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The idea that certain diet substances can affect intellectual capabilities and emotions is nothing new. Kitchen-table wisdom has made the connection between brain health and diet for centuries.
But recently, studies have provided insight into the fundamental ways these dietary elements work to impact brain health and mental performance. For example, scientists have discovered that gut hormones can travel to the brain.
Getting some insight into the science behind how food affects cognition could aid us in managing our diets, boosting our neurons’ resilience to harm, and bettering our overall mental well-being.
Good health needs to have the right diet.
For individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia, inadequate nutrition can heighten behavioral difficulties and lead to weight loss.
Furthermore, good nutritional advice can be beneficial for both the person dealing with dementia and the caregiver as well.
The following are a few tips from Alzheimer’s disease experts that can help improve the health of anyone, caregivers, and the “cared-for” alike.
- Include a wide range of nutritious foods in your diet. Incorporate vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein sources.
- Avoid high saturated fat and cholesterol foods. Understand that some fats are beneficial for overall health, but steer clear of those which can be damaging to your heart, such as butter, lard, solid shortening, and fatty cuts of meat.
- Consume fewer refined sugars. These types of sugars are often found in processed foods and contain calories but lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Satisfy a sweet tooth with healthier options such as fruit or juice-sweetened baked goods. However, if appetite loss is an issue in the later stages of Alzheimer’s, adding sugar to food may help to encourage eating.
- Cut down on foods with high sodium and salt. The majority of people in the US have a sodium intake that is too high, which impacts blood pressure. Use spices and herbs as an alternative to season food.
Part of the fundamental Promise that The Kensington Reston adheres to every day involves helping other caregivers everywhere.
One of the best ways caregivers can find some relief or assistance is by gaining important knowledge and expertise wherever it can be found. And whenever new developments arise for improving the lives of Alzheimer’s or dementia patients, we hope to make them available to as many caregivers as possible.
We know how tough caregiving for dementia-afflicted people can be.
Our memory care team members face a host of challenges every day relating to these degenerating conditions. Rising to meet them each time is a group effort and one we welcome.
If you are looking to connect to a wider network of caregiving resources, or are thinking of expanding your options for your loved one, reach out to The Kensington Reston.
Let’s see how we can care for you and your family.